Sunday, November 20, 2005

Fire Siedlecki

[N.B.: If you don't care about football in general and the Yale-Harvard game in particular, just skip this post.]

Let's start off with the things that Yale's head football coach is not responsible for: following a goal-line stand that culminated in a recovered Harvard fumble with an interception returned for a Harvard touchdown one play later; not wrapping up the goddamn quarterback after making contact with him behind the line of scrimmage, allowing him to score the tying conversion; finding a way not to convert a crucial 3rd and 2; managing to lose yards while going for it on 4th and less than 1; three turnovers on three overtime possessions, including a lost fumble and an interception on two consecutive plays (think about that for a second); a receiver deciding, rather than get his ass on the ground and protect the ball after having gained enough yardage to set up a winning field goal, to fight for one more yard only to get the ball pillaged (that was the backbreaker, by the way).

Still, Jack Siedlecki's got to go. At the beginning of the third quarter, Yale went up 21-3 on a touchdown by Mike McLeod (of the clan McLeod), not only our best running back but also our most effective offensive weapon against Harvard. McLeod sat out most of the remainder of the half so that Jordan Spence, who I'm sure is a nice guy but needed a triptek to find his way out of the backfield, could get some playing time. Surprise! The running game stalled out and the offense was reduced to the arm of Jeff Mroz, who seems equally capable of throwing a TD pass or an interception on any given play.

After something prompted Siedlecki to put McLeod back in the game (it might have been the reduction of an 18 point lead to a 0 point lead, which I'm guessing the head coach did eventually notice), and with about 1:30 left in the 4th quarter, three time-outs in the pocket, and an opportunity for a winning drive, somebody on the staff made the call to hang McLeod out to dry as a fucking kick returner. In case this point needs to be stressed, that is the most dangerous role in football (punt returners can protect themselves by fair catching). The idea was what exactly? Risk the runningback's health because his KR average might be 5 yards better than the next guy on the depth chart? Are we supposed to believe that there isn't a single fast but not-indispensible wide receiver on the team?

Surprise! McLeod was injured on the return. The drive stalled. Harvard wins in overtime, because Yale forgot how to hold on to the ball.

So yeah, the head coach has to get the blame for benching the team's best player while the lead evaporates, then needlessly putting him at risk. Also, Siedlecki's coached Yale to five consecutive losses to Harvard, and if he wasn't single-handedly responsible for every cock-up in every one of them, he's certainly made idiotic, difference-making decisions more than once.

(Remember the 2003 edition of The Game? Yale had a better team than Harvard that year. The turning point came when Siedlecki decided, in a 4th down short yardage situation in the red zone, not to kick a field goal, not to pass the the ball -- QB Alvin Cowan was the best passer in the Ivy League, and not to run the ball with HBs Rob Carr and Dave Knox -- they were the best runners in the league -- but instead to run a weak side QB option, after the same play lost yards on 3rd down. It lost yards on 4th down, too.)

How does this guy still have his job?


At 9:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yup. It's time. Who can bear to see another season of rushing it up the middle on *every* crucial down?

They still have Dawson next year, O'Hagan as well and it'll be in Cambridge. Will the Eli powers-that-be take note when we lose for the sixth consecutive Game?


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